The skilled trades industry made a push to recruit young women into the business with an event Saturday at Georgian College.
Skills Ontario and Georgian College hosted a free-to-attend information event focusing on women in skilled trades and technology.
The event was held at Georgian’s Peter B. Moore Advanced Technology Centre and was open to girls in grades 7 and 8 looking to explore a career in the skilled trades.
It was aimed at inspiring girls to consider career paths in skilled trades and technology in areas they may have considered “non-traditional” or “not for girls.”
Morten Rapp, the program co-ordinator for HVAC gas technician, said the open house is key to getting women involved in trades.
“This is all about inclusivity and promoting our trades to girls coming out of high school and allowing them to see the many options they may not have thought of,” said Rapp. “Skilled trades is starting to see more women than ever before, but it is still a low number. It can be intimidating for a woman to be on a job site with 40 men, and we want to educate and bring in as many women to the profession as possible.”
Attendees were able to discover career opportunities through hands-on and interactive activities and network opportunities.
Brandi Ferenc is a refrigeration mechanic and was an instructor Saturday, showing visitors how fun it can be to work with their hands and with tools.
“I’ve been at this for about 18 years and am just a huge advocate and champion for women and minorities in skilled trades. I’ve been doing these events for over 15 years and, personally, it is my favourite thing to do — to put the tools into a young person’s hands and watch them do something they’re proud of,” said Ferenc.
Instead of just soldering two pieces of pipe together for demonstration, Ferenc had the youth make a cellphone/tablet tabletop holder out of a few pieces of pipe.
“This gives them something to envision when they’re working. It has been so much fun for them, and our booth has been crazy-busy all morning,” she said.
Caroline Bashud, a 17-year-old student in Simcoe County, was brought to the event by her dad, who is a welder.
“I didn’t want to come at first. It really isn’t my thing, but I started seeing all the women that are in the industry and then heard how much money can be made and it may have changed my mind,” she said.